How can I have iTune "see" tracks already present on my external drive?
January 7, 2006 1:52 PM   Subscribe

iTunesFilter. How can I have iTune "see" tracks already present on my external drive? OS 10.4.2

I stream music over Airtunes to my stereo. My Powerbook G4 has two accounts, each running iTunes. Account A's iTunes v 6.0 see songs #1-5000, say. Account B's iTune v 6.0 sees the same 5000 songs as the library on account A, as well as an additional, most recently added 500 songs.

Location of iTunes music folder:
Account A: on laptop HD
Account B: on external HD

How can I tell the library from account A see all 5,500 songs on the external HD?

My aim is to eventually remove all songs on the laptop's drive, and keep my collection on the external drive. However, occasionally I'd like to listen to songs without being tethered to the external drive, and therefore might like to copy some albums from the external to the laptop drive, and then disconnect the external drive and play the songs from the laptop.

How best do this? It's not necessary to maintain two accounts, if it can be done with one.
posted by cahlers to Computers & Internet (8 answers total)
- In prefs, uncheck "Copy files to itunes library when importing".
- From account A import the "itunes music library.xml" used by account B (usually in account B's music/itunes folder, on Mac).

I think you'll have to do this every time you add music to account B
posted by doctor_negative at 2:06 PM on January 7, 2006

Response by poster: doctor_n, in the prefs of which account?
posted by cahlers at 2:18 PM on January 7, 2006

I recently looked into something like this, and what my google searches indicated was (more or less) that there was no easy answer. To get rid of the two accounts, you might be interested in this solution. Unfortunately, I wanted a way to keep all my files in one library so that didn't work for me (and it's an ugly hack, though clever).

You can also keep stuff on the external drive by unchecking "copy files to itunes music folder when adding to library" in the preferences. iTunes handles this fairly gracefully (but unfortunately doesn't do anything intelligent about the file being on an external drive) - when the external drive is not attached, the file gets a ! next to it and itunes asks you to locate it (don't do this).

I tried using symbolic links to make it look like the files were local, but sadly iTunes doesn't respect them - when you play the song it changes its information about the song's location to the dereferenced version and loses the symbolic link information. This would have allowed replacing the symbolic link with the original files in the event of wanting them back on the internal hdd. Hopefully someone here knows of a better solution.
posted by advil at 2:21 PM on January 7, 2006

There are two problems. One is easy to solve, one not so easy:

1. Informing account A of the additional 500 songs
2. Managing tracks in two different locations.

To solve the first, you could simply tell iTunes to import the 500 tracks from the account that doesn't know about them (note: as long as you keep 2 accounts going, one of them must have the preference to keep files organized turned off; the other can have it on or off as you choose. Otherwise they can contend over file locations).

To solve the second, there's no easy answer. You can do as advil suggests, but this means that if you've been using iTunes to organize your music files, you need to stop.

Here's a little bit of lateral thinking: get an iPod--a 2 GB nano will hold about 500 tracks (or any hard-drive based model, new or used). Use that for your "untethered" music. I realize that's a considerable outlay of cash to solve this problem, but it allows you to keep your main music repository in one place and tidily managed, and, well, the iPod nano is cool.
posted by adamrice at 3:42 PM on January 7, 2006

Response by poster: adamrice, thanks for your help. How do I tell iTunes to import the 500 tracks? I've always clicked on the file I wanted to add to the library, but that isn't possible with 500 tracks.
posted by cahlers at 3:50 PM on January 7, 2006

doctor_n, in the prefs of which account?

Account A.
posted by doctor_negative at 5:06 PM on January 7, 2006

The easiest way would be to consolidate the music into one folder, go to File: Add to Library..." and select that folder.

You could also drag all the files into the iTunes window, when the Library playlist is selected.
posted by adamrice at 5:12 PM on January 7, 2006

Response by poster: adamrice, will this also work if the tracks to be added are already organized into subfolders by album/artist?
posted by cahlers at 12:51 AM on January 8, 2006

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